MORRIS COUNTY — There have been statewide business shutdowns, statewide Covid mandates, but no statewide solution to the school bus driver shortage that is affecting children’s constitutional right to access education, says Assemblywoman Aura Dunn.
Reports show school districts have been largely left to figure out the problem on their own, with some altering routes and schedules to accommodate the shortage or even offering parents as much as $1,000 to drive their kids to school. Other students have had to rely on public transportation, Uber and Lyft, or endure hours-long delays on school buses that are running.
“It’s appalling that parents and individual school districts are being forced to cobble together fixes for the school bus shortage while the Murphy administration barely acknowledges that there is even an issue. Other states have governors who have stepped up and figured it out and our children deserve the same,” Dunn (R-Morris) said.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker activated the National Guard to drive school buses, while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are working on streamlining the process to secure a commercial driver’s license and schedule an appointment at the motor vehicle agency.
“There was plenty of time to plan for this, but we know from prior experience that the Motor Vehicle Commission doesn’t think ahead,” Dunn said.
Following the months-long government-mandated shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, drivers were met with long lines and excessive wait times at reopened MVC agencies.
“This is a safety and accessibility issue that needs to be immediately addressed,” Dunn added. “Children in Paterson and Camden are being forced out of the classrooms and back into remote learning because they can’t get to school. It’s unacceptable. I am asking the governor, the Department of Education, and the MVC to put a plan into action to remedy the situation.”
Aside from saying “all options are on the table” at his weekly coronavirus briefing, Murphy has avoided stating specific measures to address the school bus driver shortage.